The Final Lifeline

Social Security was the sole source of income for 21% of those over 65 in 2012, and accounted for at least half of the total income for 57%. This is sad and scary, and it’s only going to get worse if we don’t do something now to improve life for everybody. What will happen in a few decades when those who are currently among the long-term unemployed need that social security lifeline to survive?

This is from https://www.bls.gov/nls/nlsfaqs.htm#anch11

FAQ: From time to time, staff at the Bureau of Labor Statistics are asked something along the lines of the following question:

“I read in a recent article that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, out of 100 people that start working at the age of 25, by the time they turn 65, 60 percent depend on Social Security or charity, 29 percent are deceased, 4 percent can afford to retire and 1 percent is wealthy. It goes on to say that 95 percent of people age 65 or older cannot afford to retire. I have been to the Bureau of Labor Statistics web site and have been unable to find the documentation for this information. Can you help me locate it?”

A brief search of the Internet does indeed turn up several references like this that are attributed generally to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but none of these references ever cites a specific Bureau of Labor Statistics report or news release. Neither the Bureau of Labor Statistics nor any other agency of the U.S. Department of Labor has ever produced any statistics or reports that support the statement. The statement includes imprecise language and value judgments that would not meet Bureau of Labor Statistics quality standards. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other Federal statistical agencies do not define terms like “depend on Social Security,” “afford to retire,” and “wealthy.”

Several of the assertions in the statement are incorrect or misleading. For example, research from the Social Security Administration shows that Social Security was the sole source of income for 21 percent of “units” age 65 or older in 2012, although Social Security accounted for at least half of total income for 57 percent of units age 65 or older (See Table 8.A1). (The report defines a unit age 65 or older as either a married couple living together and at least one spouse was age 65 or older or an unmarried person age 65 or older.) On average, Social Security accounted for 35 percent of total income in 2012 for units age 65 or older (see table 10.1). See the report atwww.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/income_pop55/.

Statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics show that, of the people who lived to be age 25, about 85 percent of them reached age 65. In other words, the death rate is about 15 percent, not 29 percent. See the National Center for Health Statistics web site at www.cdc.gov/nchs/deaths.htm.”

kitty

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